On Feb 20th, I interviewed for the JET Program at the Japanese Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia. Although I’m not allowed to disclose exact details about the interview questions, I thought it would be beneficial for others to talk about the whole build up.
First of all the email comes saying you are to get an interview. Anticipate the date it will be sent and check your email often! This year (2012) they were sent out on a Friday at 4p and we were given until the 8th to book our appointments. Not the time line I was expecting at all! I knew that spots would fill up quickly, but thankfully I noticed the email on my way home from work at 5:30 and reacted quickly. I knew that I personally wanted to be one of the first to be interviewed and get it out of the way before the whole affair became tedious and boring to the interviewers. So Monday the 20th at 10a was secured!
The email also requests you fill out a few quick forms to bring with you to the interview. I advise that you have a professional looking folder to bring them in and above all don’t forget then in your car (like I did!).
The email also includes directions to the consulate and I thought I did enough research with google maps on where to go/park but it wasn’t nearly enough. No matter where you end up staying, I recommend a trial drive by of the building so you know exactly what to do. Or just take a taxi (seriously as I walked to the consulate and was worried about being late or sweaty or wind swept – that was what I was thinking..). The area the consulate is in it very busy and so for out-of-towners not experienced with Atlanta traffic, it can be very overwhelming. I made the mistake of thinking I was close and parking much further away. If you aren’t cheap like me – just pay to park in the One Alliance Center parking deck which is across the street from the One Alliance building which the consulate is located in. This would have been more helpful if I understood the area. If you want to save money, park near the AMC movie theater in Phipps Plaza and walk across Lenox Rd (there is a cross walk). Here are a few photos of the area:
So prep for the actual interview: If you know Japanese, study it. Start reading the Japanese news a few weeks ahead of time so you know current events. Know the current Japanese government, leaders and politics. Study up on the Japanese school system. If you are going to be a teacher you should know what level of English the different grade levels are at and their school year structure. Study your application so you know what they know about you. I typed in “JET interview” into google and read ton of blogs about peoples experiences.
I agree with everybody else about arriving an hour early. It was nice to make friends with all the other applicants who are waiting. I kind of sized up everybody and was amazed at how different we all were. I bought a small thermos of tea and mints (in case I wanted to cough), a hair brush and a journal with my notes on how to get there. All the guys applying had suits and most of the women were wearing the same. I opted for a more casual khaki knee length skirt, long sleeve button down with a gray cardigan thrown on top and black pumps. Since I don’t know if I got in or not – I’m not sure what is the best approach, but I felt comfortable because I was wearing my normal work attire. During the interview I was myself. Granted I started off with the nervous chihuahua shakes – which I had no control of but I just ignored my body’s betrayal and remembered I’m a confident, smart and successful woman. During the interview, when I felt they had backed me into a corner in which their was no good solution, I admitted defeat, tried to problem solve in my own way and then asked for their advice of how it should have been handled differently. Now I’m sure everybody’s panel will be different and this approach might not work out every time but my three interviewers always explained to me my mistake and told me personal stories of their own experiences and the challenges they came up against. I actually had fun and surprised myself in cracking a few small jokes. By the end of the 20 minutes, the two former JETs were giving me travel and teaching advice. The woman interviewer shook my hand and told me I’d done very well and I left thinking it a positive experience.
So lets see what happens in April (and in April I’ll probably edit this with better critiques of what I’d do differently if I don’t get in!).